Sunday, March 18, 2012

Choosing the right friction mount for your auto GPS

Gps_friction_dash_mount

Friction mounts are great, but it’s easy to get one that won’t work with your GPS. Today I’m going to look at three different friction mounts and address how to select the right one. First I want to cover some common questions about friction mounts.

Why use a friction mount?

I prefer friction mounts over suction cup mounts for two reasons — theft prevention and convenience. Let’s say you’re navigating to a shopping center or restaurant. You see it coming up. You can lift the friction mount off the dash before you even pull into the parking lot. No one sees you remove the GPS and there is no tell-tale suction mark left on the windshield. If I’m leaving the car only briefly, I will often just place the mount with GPS attached on the floorboard.

It’s convenient in other ways too. These mounts are flat out easier to use than a suction mount. And if you have disassembled it, you can attach the GPS to the mount in your lap, rather than having to reach to the windshield.

Do they ever fall off the dash?

The only time I have ever had a friction mount come off the dash was when driving a wash-boarded, gravel, Forest Service road (way too fast I might add). When testing on pavement in town, neither jack-rabbit starts nor slamming on the brakes have resulted in any significant movement of a friction mount. Do be aware though; like any GPS mount, friction mounts should be placed outside of air bag deployment zones.

How do friction mounts work?

Friction mounts stay on your dash, thanks to two things — a grippy, non-slip bottom and a fabric “bean bag” that contains weights.

Choosing a GPS friction mount – three options

Selecting a proper friction mount isn’t always the easiest thing to do. There are brand-specific mounts and so-called universal mounts. Sometimes the latter simply will not work with some GPS units. So let’s take a look at some popular options and how to ensure that you get one that does work for your GPS.

Garmin nuvi friction mount

UPDATE: Here’s my video review of the newest Garmin friction mount.

I’ve written about this one before. If you have a nuvi, look no further. The Garmin nuvi friction mount has over a thousand five-star reviews at Amazon, and with good reason. It works great, and the four-pronged legs of the mount help it conform somewhat to the shape of your dash.

Garmin_nuvi_friction_mount

Unlike universal mounts, you don’t connect your suction mount to this one. Instead, it replaces the swivel ball of your existing mount, as you can see below.

Nuvi_mount_components_2

Bracketron universal friction GPS mount

Universal mounts have a flat smooth surface that your suction cup mount attaches to. The Bracketron universal GPS mount, a popular option, has a very simple, circular design. While it does not conform well to dash shape, it doesn’t seem to make any difference other than aesthetically. It will however, take up the most space (front to back) of the three options listed here.

Bracketron_gps_mount

You can see it in action below with the Dash Express. The Dash is so heavy that it may prove an exception to my statement about friction mounts not moving. I haven’t seen this one slide with the Dash on it, but I’m betting it could topple over.

Bracketron_universal_mount

Unfortunately, the Bracketron mount is far from universal. Which brings us to the next mount…

Arkon friction GPS dash mount

Some GPS suction mounts are so short, that they will not extend the device over the raised bean bag fabric at the front of the Bracketron mount. Prominent examples are the new TomTom ONE 130 and XL 330 series featuring the new EasyPort mount. Devices that have a power lead sticking out of the base of the unit can also be problematic. As you can see below, the Arkon friction GPS dash mount solves this problem nicely, by eliminating any front lip.

Akron_friction_mount

This type of mount can also give you a lower profile than most friction mounts. The photo at the top of this post shows the Akron in action with the TomTom XL 330-S.

I hope you’ve found a mount in this post that will suit your needs. Now it’s your turn. What mounts have you tried that do or don’t work with your device?

 

 

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the great site and write-ups. I use the Bracketron with my Nuvi 200W in my ’08 Mustang and it’s rock solid. You can turn fast and brake hard without the unit slipping at all. A big thumbs up from me.

  2. The Garmin Mount you show deserves 6 Stars out of 5. 🙂

  3. Using a Phone Holder for Your GPS Navigation

    Author—Mary Beth Lowell – Communications Manager We’ve always encouraged TeleNav GPS Navigator customers to use a car phone mount while using the service and driving. Now, with many states recently enacting a hands-free law, it’s probably even more imp…

  4. Your article is relevant but for myself I try to have the best of every thing with out gadget. I thought to my own car configuration and two GPS : One for off-road (no map) Garmin GPS 60 and for road navigation a GPS MIO 230, to get the most of them. Result is fast a sequence to install and remove GPS. From picture (see URL) every thing is made to clamp tight at cover hatch of a door compartment using a coat hanger (steel wire) banded and fixed to GPS mount with rubber bands. Every thing should stay put for many “G”. I am lucky to have this glass compartment so conveniently place in my car.

  5. Looks cool!

  6. Hey, first of all, this is a very well-written post. I personally know how hard it is to navigate through the GPS choices out there (having shopped and finally bought one for my daughter last month), and then it’s time to put it in the car and make sure it doesn’t slide right off the dashboard! I ended up getting my daughter the TomTom ONE 3rd Edition. Here’s the details about it:
    http://wize.com/gps-devices/tomtom-one-3rd-edition—gps-receiver/413092?t=991
    It seems like from the three friction mounts that you reviewed, the last one (Akron) is the best choice for her TomTom. Is that correct? I just wanted to confirm before I went ahead and bought it as well. Thank you!
    -Dave

  7. Dave,
    Yes, I think the Akron mount will work best for the TomTom ONE 3rd edition.

  8. Hello,
    thank you so much for spending your time to share with us those important information. Anyway I want to ask a question. I have a TomTom ONE 130S I like it, it works really good for me, but my problem is: It does not want to stay on my dash or my vehicle glass for long. Fortunately when that happened I had my family there to help me with. I have it with an EasyPort mount, I think it will act the same way with an Arkon Friction GPS dash mount. After some time of driving it will take off from it, even if the mount stay on the dash board. Help me with a better one if you can. Thank you.

  9. Is it coming off at the point of suction? If so, make sure that the suction cup and windshield or friction mount surfaces are clean. Also, a single drop of water under the suction cup will work wonders.

  10. I personally like the Gecko “footpad” version, but this one is good too.

  11. My friction mount doesn’t work as well as it did when I first got it. the “sticky” part on the bottom seems to accumulate dust and it affects the effeictveness of the product. Is there any kind of maintenance recommended?

  12. Just purchased a TomTom XL 330S . Is there a compatible neck that would fit this unit and my Garmin nuvi friction mount? Thanks for your help!

  13. The current friction mount by Garmin is the perfect answer for my 2460LT.I use my gps in several vehicles and simply put it on the dash and it never moves.The rachet base allows horizontal movement and the non sticky base means no cleaning.Full marks for Garmin for this great product.

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